FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #439 | A Whiff Inside An Ethiopian Coffee Collective

October 22, 2014 

In the short doc There Is Only Coffee, Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of The Perennial Plate check out a coffee-making collective in rural Ethiopia.

Unlike most coffee growing regions of the world, in Ethiopia the folks who grow the coffee, also drink the product. Long considered the birthplace of the beverage, Ethiopia produces some of the best. This little film is a love song to coffee, the grueling work that goes into producing it and the importance of small farms and cooperation in that process.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #438 | On The Matter Of Sex In East & West Germany

October 21, 2014 

(via) Do Communists Have Better Sex? is a fascinating 2006 documentary that looked at who was more sexually liberated, the seemingly repressed East Germans or the “free” West Germans.

The documentary proposes that, for all its deficiencies, the German Democratic Republic actually put forth a remarkably progressive set of policies related to such things as birth control, divorce, abortion, and sex education — a precedent to which some non-communist countries still haven’t caught up. However forward-thinking you might find all this, it did have trouble meshing with other communist policies: the state’s rule of only issuing housing to families, for instance, meant that women would get pregnant by about age twenty in any case. We must admit that, ultimately, citizens of the showcase East Germany had a better time of it than did the citizens of Soviet Socialist Republics farther east. And if the Ossies had a better Cold War between the sheets than did the Wessies, well, maybe they just did it to escape their country’s pervasive atmosphere of “unerotic dreariness.”


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #437 | How New York City Gets Its Billion Gallons A Day

October 20, 2014 

(via) This fascinating documentary short from The New York Times details the elaborate, gravity-fed system that delivers a billion gallons of fresh water into New York City every day.

It is the gold standard of urban water supplies. The New York City watershed was assembled during the 20th century, and the system’s underground aqueducts are considered an engineering marvel.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #436 | The Night Culture Of New York’s Times Square

(via) This short documentary “People of Times Square” by photographer Michael Tapp explores the bizarre yet beautifully human “intersection of the world” at night.

“What they doin’ at 11 o’clock at night just walkin’ around? You know they don’t live here. They got money and they don’t know what to do with it so they come here to look for somethin’ to spend it on. If there wasn’t these lights, there wouldn’t be nothin’. It’d be another block”

Bonus: freaky baby.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #435 | Big Undulatus Asperatus Clouds Over Nebraska

(via) This time lapse from storm chaser Alex Schueth shows undulatus asperatus clouds rolling in spectacular fashion over Lincoln, Nebraska. The clouds’ name comes from the Latin, “roughened or agitated waves”. They’re are formed when “enough atmospheric instability, or rising air, is available to create widespread cloud cover, as well as wind shear and turbulence, which creates the wavy, rough sea-like visual effect.” Video of the same below…


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #434 | Time Lapse Shows California’s Stunning Diversity

September 15, 2014 

(via) This timelapse showcasing California was filmed over a four year period by Hal Bergman.

“California is the most populated state in the United States, and the third largest. It’s almost double the size of the United Kingdom and slightly larger than Japan. If it was it’s own independent country (as it was briefly for a few weeks in 1846), it would have the 8th largest economy in the world by GDP. It contains the highest summit and the lowest desert in the Contiguous United States (and the second-lowest point in the world), both of which are in the same county. It’s most known for movies, technology, wine, and national parks, but also grows more than a third of the vegetables consumed in the US, two-thirds of the fruits and nuts, and an unknown but presumably huge percentage of marijuana. It contains every major climatological biome except tundra. More important than those facts, to me, is that I was born and spent most of my life here.”

Locations include (in alphabetical order) Alabama Hills, Big Sur, Bombay Beach, Death Valley National Park, Gilroy, Inyo National Forest, Jenner, Joshua Tree, Lake Tahoe, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Malibu, Mono Lake South Tufa Reserve, Mount Shasta, Napa, Onyx, Owens Lake, Salinas, San Diego, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Santa Monica, Sequoia National Forest, Venice, Weldon, and Yosemite National Park.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #434 | Cool Time Lapse Shows Ohio Amish Barn Raising

September 4, 2014 

This recent Ohio Amish barn-raising took a little over 10 hours to complete. The whole operation is condensed down to three and a half minutes in this time-lapse video. It’s a pretty astounding thing to watch, especially at the 2 minute mark, when all the hammers drop and the small army of hatted workmen disappear off-screen, presumably for lunch, only to reappear to finish the job.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #433 | Rush Hour In Taipei Is NOT Like It Is In Vancouver

In Taiwan’s Taipei City, the morning rush hour across Taipei Bridge appears to be as smoothly mesmerizing as it is unfathomably insane. If the calm is typical, it really puts the peak-time chaos of entering/exiting Vancouver into embarrassing perspective. It would be a fascinating thing to watch our many road/roid raging morning commuters try to merge with such a calm, purposeful throng. There would likely be casualties, so it’s for the best that our respective road systems don’t connect.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #432 | The Unbelievable Story Of India’s “Forest Man”

(via) Hats off to Toronto-based filmmaker William McMaster for sharing such an fascinating and inspiring story.

Since the 1970′s Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC. His forest has transformed what was once a barren wasteland into a lush oasis. Humble yet passionate and philosophical about his work. Payeng takes us on a journey into his incredible forest…

Payeng’s forest is now populated by a wide range of animals, among them deer, elephant, rhino, and tigers. Money quote: “There are no monsters in nature except for humans”.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #431 | Kama Sutra-Inspired Art Depicting Police Brutality


(via) These posters were designed by Brazilians Gabriel Morais, Renato Botelho and Bruno Pereira so they could raise awareness about police violence during peaceful street protests. Using the original sexual positions of the Kama Sutra as a guide, the images show demonstrators in the midst of being physically abused by police.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #430 | How To Make Sweet Tunes In A Foodie Paradise

(via) San Francisco musician Edgar Camago recorded sounds at several foodie magnets (Tartine, Craftsman & Wolves, Ritual, etc) in the city’s super tasty Mission District and incorporated them into a song dedicated to their deliciousness.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #429 | How To Make Good Hunting Blowpipes In Borneo

(via) “Only a few elders of Borneo’s Penan tribe still know how to make their unique hunting tool, the blowpipe. Balan is the last person in his village who practices the dying craft.”


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #428 | In The Congo, Making Soccer Balls From Trash

(via The New York Times): “As soon as I saw a photograph of an African soccer ball, stitched together from old rags in the geometric patterns so familiar to us, I wanted to tell its story. And so last July my filmmaking crew traveled to a village outside of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we shot this Op-Doc. Although the country did not qualify for the World Cup, people there – as in most of Africa – are mad about soccer. They play it everywhere. And because soccer balls like the ones common on American fields are a rarity in much of Africa, the sport is often played with homemade balls, like the one in this video.” – director Jerome Thélia.


FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE BRIEF #426 | New “Napkin Table” Tackles Picnic Blanket, Fails


(via) Michael Jan, an industrial design graduate from Taiwan’s Tunghai University, is getting a lot of attention for his “Napkin Table” innovation. It’s a shared bib that, when fastened around the necks of two inexplicably willing participants, creates a makeshift table and forces the wearers into rigid postures. We congratulate Jan on his surprising graduation, and wish his converts both a hearty bon appetit and a very persistent wasp who understands the concept of schadenfreude.


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